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Tag Archive: Eddie Marsan


Review by C.J. Bunce

In all the flurry of late spring and early summer movie releases, don’t forget to see that X-Men movie sequel that drifted into theaters with less fanfare than the original two years ago.  That’s Deadpool 2, still in theaters nationwide in its fourth week, but probably phasing out soon.  So get to the theater before it’s gone.  More Ryan Reynolds sass and wisecracking, less of the supporting cast from the original, but more new characters fans of Marvel Comics and Marvel Comics-at-the-movies will want to see more of, Deadpool 2 has one big surprise you won’t glean from the trailers:  It’s a classic X-Men comic book story.

Take away the R-Rated humor and the jokes and you’ll find the backbone is a plot bringing the entirety of 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise full circle.  The themes of that very first story from the first film in 2000, the movie called X-Men, return.  In X-Men we met young teenager Rogue (Anna Paquin), struggling with her abilities and the burden they place on her.  Despite the superhero vs. superhero storyline, the real villain was Senator Kelly, trying to pass a federal Mutant Registration Act (similar in plot development as the legislation that divides the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War).  Here we meet an out-of-control and mistreated mutant from New Zealand called Firefist (Julian Dennison), and the villain is another Senator Kelly-type trying to do-away with the mutants, played by familiar British actor Eddie Marsan.  Coming back to this theme 18 years later is a smart move–even in a flurry of humor we’re reminded that the stories were sourced in an effort to address teen readers trying to fit into the world.

New characters Cable (Josh Brolin) and Domino (Zazie Beetz) are perfect transformations from comic to screen.  Cable is an expertly realized cyborg, not just a fill-in character but a fully developed new player in Marvel Studios’ arsenal.  Domino is a reminder that members of Marvel’s B-team line-up can steal the show (like Evan Peters’ Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past) when written well.  Any kid or kid at heart will appreciate a battle scene between Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Juggernaut (Ryan Reynolds) complete with its own humorous operatic accompaniment.  Time travel plays a key element in the story and Brolin’s cyborg is every bit as compelling as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s from the Terminator series, and the writers and director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde, John Wick) tap into that with dropped references every chance they get.

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Forty-five years later it’s become clear that confidential informant Deep Throat’s role in the Watergate scandal that resulted in the 1974 resignation of President Richard Nixon was far less than the legend that had been built over the years.  Despite the top journalism by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein–it was really good ol’ fashioned dogged reporting and investigation that brought the White House down–it is their own account, as documented in their book All the Presidents’ Men that in fact created the mythos of the secret crusader that revealed all.  For 30 years the mystery of what Washington insider was really the pseudonymous Deep Throat was one of the biggest mysteries of modern political history, the history of journalism, and the history of modern America.  Who was the secret informant?  Many around during Watergate would never find out, including Nixon, although he had speculated it was FBI Director Mark Felt.  The world knew that Woodward and Bernstein knew the answer.  It was all the exciting stuff of a paperback suspense thriller, until Felt admitted in 2005 that he was, indeed, the informant.

Yes, the title violates the “don’t make it so damned long” rule of titling a great movie, but since we’ve known the secret persona of Mark Felt for twelve years, it’s really been only a matter of time until we’d get to see Watergate from a new angle.  Mark Felt:  The Man Who Brought Down the White House, from Sony Pictures Classics, looks like an interesting enough thriller, but can it possibly have what made the four-time Oscar winner All the Presidents’ Men such a benchmark in the history of film?  All the President’s Men was exciting despite the audience knowing the ending.  Now the audience even knows the key secret of the story, so it will be up to a compelling story for this new account to succeed, and a great cast.

Director Peter Landesman has assembled an impressive cast.  Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List, Taken, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Batman Begins, The Chronicles of Narnia) plays Felt.  Diane Lane (The Outsiders, Judge Dredd, Man of Steel) plays his wife.  Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Paycheck) is White House counsel to Nixon, John Dean.  Julian Morris (New Girl, 24, Valkyrie) is Bob Woodward.  Tom Sizemore (Twin Peaks, Striking Distance, China Beach) plays an FBI agent, and CIA agents are played by Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek, Super 8, Thirteen Days, Knots Landing) and Eddie Marsan (Atomic Blonde, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Morrell, The World’s End, Sherlock Holmes, V for Vendetta).  Noah Wyle (Donnie Darko, The Librarians, A Few Good Men) plays Department of Justice official Stan Pottinger.  Pat Gray, acting FBI Director at the time of the break-in at Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel complex, is played by notable genre tough guy actor Martin Csokas (The Lord of the Rings, The Equalizer, The Amazing Spider-man 2, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Alice in Wonderland, Aeon Flux, Timeline, Xena: Warrior Princess).  Also look for Josh Lucas (Hulk, A Beautiful Mind) and Kate Walsh (The Drew Carey Show, Scary Movie 5).

Here is a preview for Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

At the beginning of Daniel Craig’s first foray as James Bond in 2006’s Casino Royale, Craig redefined Bond as viewers were taken back to his first kill, the event that earned Bond his 00 status.  The scene instantly set the standard for the modern fight-or-die scene.  This is the exact level of hand-to-hand combat viewers will be treated to in the new summer release, Atomic Blonde.  Charlize Theron terrifically portrays what everyone always wanted to see: a woman in the role of James Bond.  Sure, she has a different name, but Theron is believable just the same as a spy being interrogated by heads of MI6 at the end of a mission.  As she tells her story, in every way she convinces us that she could go head-to-head with, and maybe even knock out Craig’s tough and bloody version of the Brit master spy.  Only don’t think this is a typical Bond movie.  It isn’t.  It’s layered, more like The Usual Suspects or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, only better–less cerebral and more fun.  And Theron chalks up another badass cinematic heroine, resulting in a film that is easily worth the admission price.

Based on Antony Johnston and Sam Hart’s 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City from Oni Press, Atomic Blonde follows the original, focusing on several nations’ spies trying to recover a secret list of agents being smuggled out of East Germany just before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  Theron plays Lorraine Broughton, a no-nonsense top-level spy, with attitude and style, battered and bruised from some recent epic encounter when we meet her at the beginning of the movie.  She’s being interrogated and debriefed by both British and American agency heads, with John Goodman (Argo, 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Big Lebowski, Monsters, Inc.) as the American and Toby Jones (Captain America: The First Avenger, Snow White and the Huntsman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Doctor Who) as the Brit.  What unfolds is a smartly constructed Cold War thriller, more complicated than Ian Fleming but not as complicated as John le Carré, but enough so that it may lose viewers a few times along the way.  Ultimately Broughton finds herself trying to smuggle out of the country a German officer who memorized the secret spy list, played by Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes, The Illusionist, V for Vendetta, The World’s End).  The rewards and payoffs come not only at the resolution but in several scenes along the way, as Theron punches, kicks, hammers, fires, splatters, mows down, stabs, punctures… everything but bites her way through dozens of bad guys trying to kill her.  The violence is extreme, but it all works–it’s great fun much like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s or Chuck Norris’s blockbuster rampages in the 1980s–and it’s not gratuitous like a Quentin Tarentino bloodbath (blown-off heads aside).

The Atomic Blonde of the title comes from Broughton’s short, 1980s style hair, and that length allows us to see that much of the time Theron is actually doing her own punching, and taking plenty of punches, from all these men.  She’s quicker, and she prepares herself for many of her punches and bruises by soaking in a tub of water filled with ice cubes–a concept that helps her more than once throughout the film.  The story and action really kicks in as Broughton begins to smuggle Marsan’s character out of the country and as the steps are laid out in a subplot involving her mission to assassinate Satchel, a double agent known for selling secrets to the Soviets.  It’s exciting like the real-life story told in Ben Affleck’s hit film Argo, where a spy smuggled a group of would-be hostages out of Iran in 1980.  Atomic Blonde has less subtlety and nuance than Argo, but Atomic Blonde similarly displays an early, retro style of storytelling compelling enough to keep viewers interested.  Does it feel like a comic book adaptation?  Sure.  Like History of Violence and Road to Perdition.  In fact Broughton could be Hit Girl from Kick-Ass all grown up.

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In The Italian Job Charlize Theron played a tough and edgy thief.  In Aeon Flux she was a decisive assassin.  In Snow White and The Huntsman and The Huntsman: Winter’s War she was a ruthless, evil queen.  In Mad Max: Fury Road she was a rebel road warrior.  This year she adds another badass to her repertoire, an anti-hero named Lorraine Broughton, in the 1980s Cold War movie Atomic Blonde.  Theron gets to play Jason Statham in any number of action films.  Or the latest James Bond type.  A bit Jack Reacher or John Wick.  Or Van Damme in his heyday.

Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris, Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood wish they had moves like Theron’s portrayal of a cold-blooded spy in this new action spy thriller from stunt man-turned-director David Leitch (John Wick, Dead Pool 2).  The latest trailer reveals a stylish, gritty, crazy-fun flick that any fan of Theron will be after.

The latest movie to be based on a graphic novel, Atomic Blonde is from Antony Johnston’s 2012 book.  A great supporting cast boasts John Goodman, James McAvoy, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, and another great actress taking Hollywood by storm:  Star Trek Beyond and The Mummy’s Sofia Boutella.

Check out this trailer for Atomic Blonde:

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Magic trick Now You See Me

It must be hard to portray the art of being a magician on the big screen.  The latest effort is The Transporter, The Incredible Hulk, and Clash of the Titans’ director Louis Leterrier’s Now You See Me previewed earlier at borg.com here.  It has much to offer by way of entertainment, the best reward being the cast, which manages to nail that very Las Vegas magic act schtick of “showmanship” that you only see in a good magic act.  But can you give a theatrical audience a convincing magic show–actually trick us and surprise us in the same way someone like David Copperfield can make the Statue of Liberty disappear right in front of you, or how Teller distracts as Penn causes the very thing you’re staring at to disappear right before you?

Apparently you can’t do that in the movies–or at least no one has dazzled us in that way yet.  But you can at least give us a good show letting us see different styles in which magicians practice their art.

Magic Act Now You See Me

Two recent contenders for the top of the “movies about magicians and magic” list are not at risk of leaving the top because of Now You See Me.  The Illusionist, starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel, Rufus Sewell, Eddie Marsan, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and The Prestige, starring Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, and Scarlett Johansson released opposite each other in 2006, take on the same themes.  But if you’re deciding between the two we think The Illusionist, from director Neil Burger (Limitless, Divergent) is the better film, over the very typically over-the-top effort by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel, Inception) in The Prestige.  It’s the payoff of Now You See Me that doesn’t quite cut it, despite some fun theatrics along the way.

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Jonathan Strange and Mr Morrell

The 2004 alternate history fantasy novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by British author Susanna Clarke is on its way to your TV set.  Set during the Napoleonic Wars in an England in a fantasy world where magic once existed, two magicians meet: genre actor Eddie Marsan (The World’s End, V for Vendetta, Sherlock Holmes, Gangs of New York) plays Mr. Norrell, opposite Bertie Carvel (Sherlock, Doctor Who) as Jonathan Strange.  The novel is adapted by Peter Harness (WallanderDoctor Who) and directed by Toby Haynes (SherlockDoctor Who).

The cast also includes Marc Warren (The Good WifeHustle) as The Gentleman, Samuel West (Mr Selfridge, Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond) as Sir Walter Pole, Enzo Cilenti (Prisoners Wives, Rome) as Childermass, and Ariyon Bakare (The Dark KnightDancing on the Edge) as Stephen Black.

jonathan strange bbc

Here’s the description of the show from the BBC America press release:

1806.  England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past.  However, scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains – the reclusive and skillful Mr Norrell (Marsan).  His displays of magic soon thrill the nation. In London, he raises the beautiful Lady Pole (Englert) from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. 

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Something looking not quite right in The Worlds End

Whether or not you’re a fan of British humor, like Monty Python or the comedy sitcom staples we get in the U.S. on public television, you will probably get plenty of laughs from the third entry in the Cornetto Trilogy.  Director/writer Edgar Wright, along with star and writer Simon Pegg, actors Nick Frost and Martin Freeman and many other actors from early entries in the comedy trilogy, deliver a singularly funny flick, better than you’d expect from the genre.

In the typical U.S. throwaway comedy movie about drinking and bar-hopping, the movie would be full of gross-outs and stupidity–anything–especially a shock–for a laugh.  Edgar Wright cares enough about his own career and his famous actor pals to keep the script funny without sitting back on base humor for the easy laugh.  And you don’t need to see earlier entries Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz (but why wouldn’t you?).  The trilogy is about the creators, not the subject of the films.

The Worlds End Blu-ray and DVD US

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HOT FUZZ Cornetto Time

In your quest for the ultimate scrumptious sci-fi fix, if this doesn’t cure your munchies nothing will.  Cornettos.  They look like the American ice cream cone called the Drumstick but Brits claim they are much better.  Since we can’t get them in the States we’ll just have to take their word for it.  Yum… they sure look good.  Cornettos have been featured in the Edgar Wright comedy films starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, hence the moniker the “Cornetto Trilogy” or the “Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy” (or spelled “Flavours” if you like).  And if you’re hungry for two great comedies and the latest and greatest film starring the awesomely funny one-two punch Pegg/Frost combo, then you have one chance this Thursday night at more than 150 screens across the U.S.

Shaun of the Dead Cornettos

At 5:30 p.m. local time Thursday August 22, 2013, select theaters will show Shaun of the Dead–the greatest zombie spoof movie ever, and maybe just the greatest zombie movie, too.  Pegg plays Shaun, who is drifting through life with a dull job, Liz–his girlfriend ready to walk out, a quirky mom, a stern stepdad, annoying roommate Pete, and only his best pal Ed and his favorite haunt the Winchester to bring focus to his chaotic life.  So when an apocalyptic zombie uprising arrives, he is well prepared to head it off.

Keep Calm and watch Shaun of the Dead

Following Shaun of the Dead is the cop movie spoof Hot Fuzz.  Pegg is back this time as police officer PC Nicholas Angel who is too good at his job to the point of making everyone around him look bad so he is promoted to a small, rural English town called Sandford that has no crime.  There he partners with Frost’s character PC Danny Butterman to investigate a series of murders, including a local shopkeeper played by former James Bond Timothy Dalton in a great, quirky role.

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